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English musician Paul Simonon was bass player for the punk rock band The Clash.
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Born in 1955 in London, England, Paul Simonon, along with Joe Strummer and Mick Jones, formed the backbone for the pioneering English punk rock band The Clash. After the group's breakup in 1986, Simonon continued to record music and make his mark as a noted painter. The Clash was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2003.
Musician, painter. Bass player for the groundbreaking English punk rock band The Clash, Paul Simonon was born December 15, 1955, in London, England. Raised middle-class, Simonon, who attended predominantly black schools as a child, developed an early appreciation for soul and Jamaican music that would later influence his work with The Clash.
His love for art, and his obvious talent for it, eventually earned him a scholarship to a local art school. But his passion for music never subsided, and in the early 1970s he cut his teeth as a bass player in a punk band called London SS.
Through it he formed a lasting friendship with the group's guitarist, Mick Jones. In 1976 the pair took in a performance of a band called the 101ers. Headed up by singer Joe Strummer, the group had earned some early notoriety for playing a couple of gigs with up-and-coming British punk band the Sex Pistols.
Later in 1976, Jones, Simonon and Strummer were formally introduced by their common friend and eventual manager, Bernie Rhodes. From that introduction, The Clash was formed. The group's name came from Simonon, who had noticed how often the term "clash" was used in an edition of the London Standard newspaper. Drummer Terry Chimes joined the group a short time later.
In January 1977, The Clash signed with CBS Records for £100,000. The group's self-titled debut album, which was recorded in just three weekends, came out that April.
The record, with future punk-rock anthems like "White Riot," "I'm So Bored with the USA" and "London's Burning," quickly propelled The Clash, who would spend the next decade largely singing about revolution and the working class, into stardom.
The group's follow-up album, Give 'Em Enough Rope, hit British record stores in 1978. About a year later, the band delivered what many rock critics and fans consider The Clash's best album, London Calling, a double-record effort that meshed the best of the 1970s punk rock sound with a refined level of lyrics and smarts that would help usher in the new decade.
The recording also featured the band's first American hit, "Train in Vain," as well as Simonon's best-known composition, "The Guns of Brixton," which he sang. Rolling Stone magazine later voted London Calling the best album of the 1980s.
For his part, Simonon's art school background played no small role in the band's success. Much of the band's look emanated from Simonon, from its early Jackson Pollock–like paint-splattered graphics and style to its later military-inspired dress.
Simonon's personal style and natural good looks also helped anchor the appearance of the band. "He was just there, looking fantastic...the bastard," Jones later recalled.
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Following the "Swinging London" era of the 1960s, a new group of cultural icons arose. The 1970s saw the emergence of the punk rock movement, built upon the wave of psychedelic and folk rock music introduced in the '60s. In the post-hippie era of the early '70s, rock 'n' roll had a new glam image, pioneered by outrageously dressed rockers like David Bowie and Marc Bolan. Soon other acts followed, most notably young performers like Siouxsie Sioux and groups like T.Rex and The Clash. The music of the '70s inspired fashion as well, in particular designer Vivienne Westwood, whose punk designs for the Sex Pistols helped define the decade's London style. Biography.com looks at the various icons who defined London in the '70s.
London Punk- Cultural Icons: 1970s 16 people in this group
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